Notes for this chapter and Additional Warning: A very sincere elvish spanking and a very conflicted Ranger. The hobbits and Boromir are thought of and mentioned, but they don’t appear in this chapter. It’s all Aragorn and Legolas.
He was there in the shadow of a great boulder, sitting with such exquisite stillness I did not notice him at first. He was not smoking. Neither glow of pipe cinders nor scent of leaf gave away his presence. Aragorn simply sat in the lonely dark, looking out, denying himself even the small comfort of his pipe.
I stood silently, watching him, feeling his private sorrow flow over me, mixing with my own remorse for having waited so long. I thought at first he had not seen me, but then, from the shadows, came his low voice, his tone mild, even disinterested, the tone of a man disconnected from all but the most necessary considerations, breathing, staying alert, existing.=
“What do you want, Legolas?”
Cold. Distant. Ah, my poor Estel. Moving from the shadows, I crossed to a great flat stone closer to him where I sat down, cross-legged, and said, “Frodo and Sam have returned.”
“Is that what you came to tell me?”
I ignored his abrupt question. “You need to make more salve.”
As I had hoped, that drew a weary grin from him. “There are entirely too many spankings going on around here,” he said.
I felt a thrill at his gentle remark, and I had to smile at the irony of his words. “True,” I replied. “However, with four hobbits --”
“Ahh, indeed.” He sighed. “At this rate I shall run out of supplies long before we reach Lothlorien.”
“At least Merry and Sam have managed to avoid anyone’s knee since leaving Imladris.”
Aragorn snorted. “We have a long way yet to go. I feel they are biding their time. Merry especially. Sam, however . . . .” Aragorn shook his head, gazing off thoughtfully. “Sam is not like the others. He neither seeks attention nor needs to be spanked for mischief. Merry however . . . .” Aragorn sniffed a grin.
I grinned back. “Aye, his impishness runs below the surface.”
“But it is surely there. Several times I have dealt with both he and his little cousin at the same time, for the same mischief.”
Releasing a soft chuckle, I said, “It is perhaps a matter of who leads who on, and who is most likely to get caught.”
“Exactly,” he chuckled himself. “Merry does get a look in his eye though, and I know when he has been instigating something.”
“You are right. We shall never reach ‘Lorien ‘ere you run out of supplies.”
“Ah, well. Until then I shall have Sam keep a lookout for more athelas.”
How good it felt to talk quietly and lightly with him this way, how comforting and familiar. But I had a purpose to fulfill. After a moment of quiet, I said, “Sam did well tonight.” He looked at me silently, somber again. “He cared for Frodo wonderfully.”
“He always does.”
I paused again, then said, “Forgive me, Estel.”
Aragorn shot me a quick look of mild surprise. “Forgive you for what?”
“For having less sense and compassion than a sweet, gentle hobbit.”
He sat up straighter, staring directly back at me. “You sound like Gandalf, speaking in riddles. What are you trying to say?”
“Frodo and Sam were having a discussion earlier, and Sam became angry about something Frodo said. He became so angry that he started using a tone Frodo took exception to. Sam was speaking to him as an equal, not as a servant.”
Aragorn frowned. “Aye, but Legolas, surely you know by now that the master-servant boundaries hold no sway over those two. They are --”
“Aye. Like us. They love each other beyond all constraints. So this was hard for them both. Frodo became furious over Sam’s audacity, and our Ringbearer’s temper gave way.”
Aragorn nodded slowly, his gaze now a bit more discerning.
“Sam was threatening Frodo’s formal position of authority, so Frodo struck back, reminding Sam of his ‘place,’ demeaning him, and mistreating him as no good master should.”
“Abusing his power,” Aragorn murmured a sadness to his tone. “Ah, poor Frodo. And poor Sam.”
I paused, letting him think on this for a moment, then I said, “Aye, it was awful, hearing the things Frodo said. He clearly regretted saying them. His eyes were full of both fury and remorse. Finally, he stormed off, ordering Sam to stay and think on his behavior. Sam stood thinking for several long moments before he followed Frodo, and you know the rest.”
Aragorn nodded thoughtfully. Then he flashed me a perceptive look. “And your point?”
“My point is, Sam would not allow Frodo to suffer the guilt that would have surely come to him following his ill-temper and abuse of power, nor would he allow Frodo’s ill-treatment of him to go unanswered. Sam had the wisdom and compassion to deal with his beloved Frodo at once and spare him any suffering.”
“And so I ask your forgiveness, Estel, for having less wisdom and compassion than a certain young gardener. I let you suffer these past few days when I also should have taken care of the matter at once.”
I stood quickly. So did Aragorn. He was instantly alert, the warrior challenged, understanding perfectly what I intended to do. We stood silently for a moment, gazing at each other, each knowing the other too well for any surprises to lie before us.
“You have misjudged me, sir,” he said. Watching me with deceptive calm, he ambled away from the boulder to an open area. Aye, cunning young warrior. Do not block yourself in. “I appreciate your concern, but there is nothing you need do here.”
I remained silent, but a warm rush spread within me. Aragorn was adhering to our familiar ritual, our patterns established long ago when he was a young adult. Yearning for redemption, he was more than willing to partake in what he knew I had come to do. Within the bold look he now fastened upon me lay a glimmering of genuine relief, and an unspoken message, “thank you.”
Now, on to our small ritual. Aragorn was a man of reason, ever choosing council over force. He also stood no chance against what he knew I could unleash, so, at present, reason was his only choice.
I contemplated him. I need not move yet, not yet. For now I would just observe. I could have settled the matter at once by forbidding the indulgence of this preliminary dance and simply spanking him. How much simpler that would have been to handle Aragorn as I had when he was a child!
But, though elements of this remained the same between us, it was also more complex. Aragorn’s adulthood needed to be considered, and I was grateful that I figured out what to do, how to help him all those years ago. I knew exactly what Aragorn needed, and it began by holding to this course we had established between us over time. He deserved whatever measure of comfort our routine afforded him.
The entire night lay before us. Plenty of time. I was in no rush. And so I remained silent and watchful, respecting his need, and finding him incredibly endearing in his vulnerable state. Aragorn touched me in the deepest way when he was like this, wringing from me an even deeper protectiveness than usual. To be needed by him resonated within my very core. Was there anything better?
“I have been troubled of late, it is true,” he went on. “I have perhaps been short with others. I handled Pippin badly today. I know that. But allow that I am dealing with what concerns me and my private thoughts and actions. So you need not trouble yourself on my account.”
I let him dig himself in deeper, and he did, prattling on about how he felt all this was beginning to pass and how he had simply been adjusting to his new responsibilities and other such pure nonsense. No response was needed from me. Indeed, what could I say to such ramblings? Aragorn himself did not believe most of what he was saying. He simply felt compelled to say something and there was really nothing he could say.
Suddenly he quieted. He stood utterly still and gazed at me, clearly understanding what was about to take place, knowing he could do nothing to stop me, and yet still trying to fight off the inevitable.
“Legolas, please. Say something.”
“What would you have me say?”
“Anything. There is no need to resort to what I fear you have in mind. Please, will you just talk to me?”
I sighed deeply. “We passed the time to talk long ago, Ranger-child.”
He flinched at the old name and flushed a little. “No. It is never too late for talk.”
“It is. It was too late in the exact moment when Boromir sided with me against you over that ridiculous soap and you lost your temper with him,” I said.
“He lost his temper with me first!”
I fought back a laugh. Such a boyish outcry. Aragorn flushed anew, plainly noting his childish words. “Indeed he did.” I tried to avoid sounding indulgent, but I fear I failed.
“He should not have interfered,” he grumbled. “It was none of his concern.”
“True enough. But that does not excuse the fact that you did lose your temper, and you were in a position of power. And like Frodo today, you abused that power, did you not?”
Another little jab of humiliation. He felt it, and he glared at me and pressed his lips together in a gesture of defiance, still struggling to control the situation, refusing to believe that his fate had already been decided.
“He gave me no choice. He refused to let the matter go.”
“There is always a choice, but you gave up your power when you gave into your temper. You knew that at once. You have anguished over it since. You know it now.”
“Aye,” he muttered, his voice hollow. He dropped his gaze. “True. I abused my power. I . . . I have suffered for it, Legolas.”
He glanced up, a stricken, beseeching look in his eyes. “Leave me to it, then.”
“Estel,” I murmured tenderly. “I cannot.”
“Please. I shall deal with it as I must. I shall conquer it. I swear to you, I shall!”
“How?” I asked. “By closing yourself in with your darkness and letting it ravage you until there is little left of my treasured Ranger-child? You forget, young one, I know something of that self-imposed solitude. And you have never permitted me to remain locked in that prison for long.”
“This is different,” he insisted. “You close yourself off in defiance. My purpose is a noble one. When I have atoned enough--”
“You shall never atone enough, Estel. You have always been too merciless with yourself. You are slipping further away each day. I shall not allow this to continue. Already I have tarried too long.”
He fumed at me for a moment, then, all at once, a hint of the boy within, small and miserable and lost, flashed in his eyes. He lowered his head again and shook it slightly, as if to clear it, his mind plainly racing, forming a defense, any defense. Looking up again, he suddenly said, “I shall apologize to Pippin. I shall make amends with him, somehow get him to understand--”
“Pippin does not need your apology, although you shall indeed make amends with him. But his concern, the concern of all right now, is for you and your anguish. All that little one needs is Aragorn, the Ranger he knows and loves, back amongst us. But you cannot find that Ranger alone. You have tried, valiantly, but it was too big a task for anyone. I stand accountable for adding to your burden by allowing you time to fight this battle alone. I lacked Sam’s simple wisdom, and I apologize again for what you have suffered because of my folly, but it ends now.”
“Legolas, please,” he said in a low, fervent voice. “Do not do this. I-I ask you, please. Do not.”
I nodded at his sword and said, “Remove your weapon.”
He clenched his fists and looked down again. He was shaking. My poor Estel! I ached for him, this man I loved more than my life, this splendid and extraordinary man, defenseless against the inner and outer forces he could not battle. And yet, I knew he was about to try. Knowing he would fail, he was still about to try. I could not help admiring such obstinacy. Very well. I provided him one last push.
“Come now,” I said in a patronizing tone. “Do not fight me, little boy. You are always sorry afterwards.”
Aragorn cornered was a dangerous creature, and yet I knew he would never hurt me, just as I would never willingly hurt him when I made him fight to get me over his knee. A curious madness infected me in those times. Fighting made absolutely no sense. But it held great appeal. It truly was madness, and I watched it infect my beloved now as he moved methodically, removing his cloak, unbuckling his belt, and laying aside his sword. He cast me one furiously glittering look before lowering his gaze and keeping it downcast, his focus sharpening on what he needed to do, his mind and muscles tightening.
I understood Aragorn’s physical need to fight me, and I usually tolerated it, allowing him some release. But I would not withstand much tonight. His inner frenzy had grown too intense. He could end up hurting himself, and I could not allow that, but I would permit him a bit of useless effort before getting down to business. I sighed and approached him
After a few minutes of indulging his lunges and blows and kicks and his hurling me about, I concluded that enough was enough. I tackled him from behind, wrapped my arms around him, hauled him off his feet and carried him over to the flat rock. His arms, locked under mine, were useless, but I had to move fast and keep dodging his head as he tried to buck backwards and break free. A few of his kicks connected, but within seconds I had seated myself and wrestled him over my lap. Clamping one leg over his, and holding his hands locked at the small of his back, I pressed down, leaned over, and just held him perfectly immobile.
This never failed to make Aragorn quickly frantic, being so easily handled, feeling this level of my strength, and knowing that it was far beyond what he remembered it being, far beyond what he imagined it could be. Knowing of elvish strength was one thing; feeling it directed towards him was another. He could not fight it, and for a warrior of Aragorn’s prowess, such a thing was staggering.
In truth, Aragorn was no more of a challenge for me than a hobbit would have been for him. His flailing limbs were bothersome, until I had fastened him down, but there had never been any chance he would break free. His chest now rested upon the stone and he was draped over my knee, both his legs held down by mine, his body stationary. He was suffering a dose of humiliation. The fact that I had, at no time, been the least bit winded added to his embarrassment. And the position itself was dreadful.
Now we would wait. Now it began.
He trembled beneath me, breathing rapidly, furiously. He tried to writhe, tried to explode with enough force to move anything but his head, but each time he was thwarted, and he ended up gasping and even more agitated. And each time he tried and failed, I reprimanded him, purring small childlike admonishments:
“Enough fussing now, sweetling . . . shhhh, hush now . . . you shall only exhaust yourself further . . . settle down, little boy . . . no more naughtiness . . . behave yourself.” And on and on, a constant hum of words.
It sometimes took hours. And I would wait, holding Aragorn down like this until he finally ceased his struggles. Aside from his inhuman stubbornness, the length of his resistance revealed the depth of his pain. But there was no other way to handle him.
Without this first step I had found that I could spank Aragorn until I could no longer bear to do it, fearing for his backside. Aragorn’s will was too strong. No amount of spanking would force him to yield. He would become silent and wait me out, suffering the endless spanks, his resentment building, the amount of pain or the duration of the spanking making no difference. I was not so heartless as to continue, and we had gone through some frustrating times together when he had matured into a young man until I had finally found what I needed to do for him.
Aragorn’s surrender had to take place in his mind. He had to feel his helplessness against the inevitable. And so here, with me holding him down, murmuring to him, patiently letting him fight until he could fight no longer, here he could reach the place wherein a spanking would affect him.
Aragorn was unable to break free of his inner anguish. He was frightened. He longed to be rescued from his guilt. So he needed a stronger, immovable force to overpower that tormentor, someone to make him accept the absolution he deserved.
He could not seek out that rescue, though, no more than I could have sought it out that night in our Ranger camp so many years ago when I had wanted more from him. I had needed Aragorn to be that immovable force for me that night, to know what I required, because I could not voice it myself.
Complex creatures we all were, seeking what we desire in many ways and for many reasons: Pippin had been unable to control his urge to fling swords, even though he knew it was dangerous, so he had flung to excess until meeting his immovable force in Boromir who had given him quite an incentive for never doing so again.
Back in Imladris, Boromir had felt a rivalry with me that compelled him to seek more attention from the immovable force of Aragorn and to further test their new relationship by shouting an insulting remark about me being Lord Elrond’s messenger boy. That night, Aragorn had soundly obliged Boromir’s need.
I had felt hurt and betrayed when finding out that Aragorn was disciplining Boromir. Fearing I had lost Aragorn’s attention and been replaced in his affections, I had withdrawn and turned surly until re-encountering that familiar immovable force of my Ranger who had yanked me over his knee and reassured me that nothing between us had changed.
Frodo had felt humiliated, believing himself inept as a swordsman. The feeling of unworthiness is an especially deep pain, so Frodo hungered for a demonstration of how much others valued him, a show that he was still worthy. He had challenged Boromir’s authority and run off, endangering himself by going too far, and therefore met two immovable forces in the form of both Boromir and myself. To Frodo’s dismay, and satisfaction, we willingly showed him just how worthy he was.
Tonight, Frodo had again felt embarrassed and angered by my disapproval. He had felt somewhat less than worthy, so he had sought out proof of his worth by inviting the retribution of Sam, who was, undoubtedly, the greatest immovable force Frodo would ever encounter.
But such was what Frodo had needed tonight, and he had instinctively sought it, without mindfulness of his inner purpose. His heart knew what he had needed, and his actions followed his heart. Frodo had needed to be shown his worth by one who loved him beyond measure. It was what any of us who sought out attention in this way needed, a perfect immovable force, bigger than we were, stronger, unyielding, and with only our best interests at heart, one who would make us accept what we ourselves could not ask for.
And now, I was Aragorn’s immovable force. I had been remiss and I had waited too long, but I would no longer wait, nor give him a choice. In truth, Aragorn had already made his choice, and then made it known by his actions.
He did not need me to step in often, not to this deep a degree, but when he did, he needed me desperately. This was exactly what had to happen, and the only method I had discovered that worked. It was the most crucial part for him, breaking him down to where he could do nothing but accept what was and surrender over my knee.
At first he would try to end his captivity by reasoning with me, to no avail. Then he became enraged and he would try to prick my anger by insulting me, flinging language at me that rivaled Boromir’s tirade, also to no avail. Physical struggle was useless. He could do nothing to remove me. I would keep him like this for days if need be, although, thankfully, it had never come to that.
Eventually, he would begin to accept that there was nothing he could do. Nothing. And that acceptance always began with a long period of silence, followed by Aragorn beginning to softly weep, utterly conquered, utterly humbled, unable to do anything but cry in frustration and face the fact that he was, indeed, completely powerless. I would never let him up. I would never go away. I would never tire. I would never lose patience. He would never outlast me. He could neither move, fight, talk, nor do anything to make me stop holding him down. He could only surrender.
He always reached that place, and he did now, but we had been at this a long time. Hearing Aragorn cry, even softly as now, was always wrenching at first, but I listened, letting him release his tears for a few minutes while I looked up at the stars. It had taken him nearly three hours. But so be it. Now when I began spanking him he would feel each spank, much as a hobbit would, with his mind accepting that he was helpless to stop me from doing it, his yielding to it complete.
I released his hands, smoothed the hair away from his face and kissed the side of his cheek, then whispered, “Good, little one. Very good. And now we have business to attend to my Ranger-child.”
Groggy from the long battle, he did nothing but shudder in response. I moved him gently, releasing his legs, and lifting him fully over my lap to settle him over my thighs. He groaned, the shift making his rigid muscles whimper. He had only tried to fight me once at this point, as I had only fought him once by punching him when he had thought me subdued. I had never tried again, and neither had he. My response at the time had been to simply hold him down for another full hour. I had felt it was simple justice for that little betrayal of trust.
When I had him bottom up and in the perfect position, I pushed his clothing away, unfastened his breeches, and lowered them. I knew what that first waft of air on a bared backside felt like, so I understood Aragorn’s tensing of his bottom. It was, however, a very fine bottom.
I ran my fingers over his muscular cheeks, smoothing my palm over the skin, listening to his weeping purrs, knowing it was a good weeping. This, too, was part of our ritual, a tender interlude we both cherished. I loved when he did this to me, even knowing what was coming next, and I loved doing it to him.
“My poor Estel,” I murmured. “Poor, weary Ranger-child. So haunted. So alone. But no more. No more of this, little boy. Time for it all to stop.”
I raised my hand and brought it down firmly. He flinched and hissed. “Aye, the first one is a shock,” I said.
I never said much when I started out spanking Aragorn. I wanted him to feel his spanking at first without distractions, concentrate on what was happening to him, where he was, what this felt like. I honored him with my best efforts, although he might have preferred a little less honor.
I did not like the fact that the actual spanking was hurting him. I felt certain that no one who was spanking another enjoyed their subject’s cries. But I knew that, while the discomfort was something he could not ignore, it was a secondary consideration to him, as it was to me when I was being spanked, as indeed I suspected it was for all and any of us who had been disciplined this way. Aye, it hurt, and indeed it was meant to, for that was what made it something to be avoided. A sore bottom could serve as a deterrent, making one think twice about foolhardy acts, but the soreness was transitory, and, for one such as Aragorn, it did not even hold the power to sway.
But a spanking served many purposes, and the physical pain itself was nothing compared to the anguish of indifference, or dismissal. It could not compare to the pain of guilt, or remorse, or the desolation of being alone with one’s inner torment, bereft of comfort or care. Were I inflicting those hurtful things upon Aragorn, I would indeed feel badly.
But although I knew this spanking was physically hurting him, it was also healing him. He felt cared for and loved. He felt noticed. He felt that he mattered. And I could not feel badly for giving him that, even when he needed it delivered in this way. I understood it. The times I remember feeling the greatest bliss and harmony were the times after Aragorn had spanked me, then held me, and comforted me, and told me all was well now, and I was beloved of him. There were no words, Westron, Sindarin, or Quenya to describe it, and what a privilege I now had to give the same to him.
He was crying in earnest now, and ready to hear me, but I allowed myself just a little more silence to feel that sweet flow of memory wash over me, the familiar warmth that came from spanking Aragorn. When I had him like this, over my knee and under my hand, I felt at peace. When he was like this, I could keep him safe, controlled, subject to my care, submissive to me. How comforting a feeling that was. These were dangerous times and the world Aragorn moved in was full of constant peril, and he was, compared to those of my kind, so fragile, so heartbreakingly mortal.
But here, reduced to this level, he was completely mine, safe, and under my command. Even though his bottom was glowing, and he was tensing and quivering with each spank, and his legs kept stiffening involuntarily, Aragorn was in the safest of places.
Of course the feeling was a fleeting luxury, as indeed it needed to be, for I could never control Aragorn’s life, nor would I choose to. A cage of protection was yet a cage, killing the cherished creature within. But here, in this brief moment, I let that feeling tingle within me for one trembling breath longer, and then I indulged it no further. I willingly released it, knowing that the very definition of loving any creature, Aragorn especially, was first respecting their freedom.
Aragorn’s sobs had become more desperate, his splendid cheeks quite red and hot, and it was time to stand up to the torments that had driven him to this state.
“I am very proud of you, sweetling,” I said, still spanking steadily. “So well behaved.” I waited.
His voice was low and hushed and becoming raw from crying, but he responded as he had learned to do over time. “T-thank-thank y-you.”
I smiled softly. His ‘thank you’ said much. It told me that we were, at last, where we needed to be.
Aragorn had to lose himself in this for it to help him. He had to be forced to this place by first feeling his helplessness, then believe that there was no escaping it unless he yielded to me. Aragorn was not thanking me for his discipline, or for finally taking him in hand. We were not there yet.
Aragorn was simply being courteous. I complimented him; he replied by politely saying ‘thank you.’ He knew our routine, and he was obeying our established mode of ritualized speech. I would say certain things, or ask certain questions, and he would answer in the same basic way he always had and was expected to again. It was, essentially, all he was capable of at the moment, and from his responses I learned many things: his degree of submission, how he was doing, where he was, and if he was still feeling safe inside.
When Aragorn felt safe, he released himself into my arms, unquestioningly obedient, and we could move on to more difficult matters. So this little ritual was reassuring to us both. I knew that he felt safe, and Aragorn, who was now chaotic inside, had something solid and sturdy to latch on to. He recognized the exchange and knew how to respond, which was comforting, and he also felt that he was being ‘good’ when he answered correctly.
“You are welcome, lirnir dithen,” I said tenderly. There was no condescension in my voice, no attempt to deride him by calling him ‘little Ranger’ in Sindarin. There was just love. Aragorn could hear that now and know that he had no choice but to accept it. He knew his part in the talk we were about to have, and he seemed more than ready to begin.
I always wished I could go numb, but I never had. No relief. Just feeling, soreness, stinging, burning, so much of it, vast waves of it, washing over my backside.
I wanted to be good. I wanted to lie still, answer him, behave. Listen for his words, remember my answers, be good. But the spanking . . . so much . . . it just . . . just . . . it hurt!
It was awful. So huge and awful. His spanking ripped through me. Every part of me. It curled into my stomach, down my legs, up my back, melting my muscles. My arms quivered, shook, as they always did at this point . . . hard to keep bracing myself up on my elbows, and I finally collapsed, lying flat, tremors vibrating through me. And Legolas kept spanking me. And I lay and shed tears, my face wet, strands of hair clinging to my cheeks, covering my eyes. I just wept, because that was all Legolas allowed, all I could do.
Time stopped. Was this what it was like for others? Did time stand still for them? When I spanked them, was it like this? No. This had to be something bigger, something elvish. Some unfair elvish advantage in spanking, like their advantage of elvish strength. I did not do this to others. I could not. Not like this. Well . . . at least not to the little ones.
I ground my teeth and clenched my fists and it was still awful, still going on, still happening. Legolas was still there, still spanking, each moment blending into the next swat. I wanted to slither out of my skin, escape somehow, anyhow. I wriggled my bottom as if trying to slide away, escape the next swat, unable to stop squirming, my legs jerking of their own accord.
But, peculiar though it was, I was safe. I was. This was Legolas. My Legolas. He would never hurt me. His spanking hurt, oh how it hurt, but my Legolas would never damage me. He knew me. He was watching . . . my beloved would never let anything happen to me. He listened. He paid close attention to me. So I was safe, everlastingly safe over my beloved’s knee. But oh, plague of a tireless elf!
Did he think it did not hurt? Should I cry out louder, or more? Yell like Pippin? No, Legolas could not want that. Loudness never seemed to mattered to him. Besides, I chose not to do that. I may be in a very bad position here, but I yet had a shred of pride.
And of course he knew how it hurt. He had been spanked often enough to know. I may not have some unfair elvish strength when paddling him, but I served him well nonetheless. Oh, yes, he knew how it hurt. Each swat burned . . . more and more . . . growing . . . every cracking, searing swat. I longed to reach back and cover my bottom, or struggle free, or make him stop.
Oh, I could writhe and wriggle, kick a little, as I was now. He let me, but not much, only so much as suited him, and it never helped. Nothing helped . . . no escape. . . just more spanks and more and more, and . . . and the soreness slicing into me, stealing my breath. No reaching back, either. That he would not allow. He spanked faster if I tried covering my scorched bottom, so no, nonono reaching back. No let up. Just spank after white-hot spank. And all I could do was cry and hope he stopped soon. He had to stop soon!
I would try to leave, go away in my head, stop feeling his spanks, squeeze my eyes shut and fill my mind with pictures, thoughts. If I could not make him stop, I would leave. And so I did. I was no longer here. This was not happening. No, no, no, I was not here. Think Estel, think. Recite something in Quenya. Aye, fill my mind, close off to feeling.
And yet, he knew when I closed my mind to him. He knew. Everlasting, irksome elf. Legolas never said so, but I swear he always knew. He never spanked harder, or went faster, just the same steady, awful, moving, piercing swats. But he would start talking, demanding my response, making me stay with him . . . so I had to be here, be good, listen and answer; there were answers I had to give.
“Now that you are behaving so well, what are we going to do next, Lirnir-hên nin?” Legolas asked.
Lirnir-hên nin. My Ranger-child. But I was not a child! I was a grown-up! No, an . . . an adult. Yes, an adult. I was a grown-up, adult Ranger.
But I knew all my answers, and Legolas was waiting, and he would not stop spanking, so I had to respond, just like always, like I had learned to do every time, ever since Legolas had first begun this with me. And my answers helped somehow. It felt good to answer right.
My bottom hurt so much, and I was so tired, so very tired, and Legolas, he just never got tired, this relentless elf, this always strong, always awake, always spanking, always talking, always patient, always watching, always listening, always endlessly there elf. And right now, I suppose, I was indeed his Ranger-child. I always was, always had been. And right now there was nothing I could do to stop him. I could only answer as he was expecting me to, and so I did because . . . because it did feel good to answer right.
“W-We are g-going to-to tal-talk now.”
“Very good, little boy. And why must we have a talk now?”
I was often tempted to give the wrong answer here, just to make him angry and just to show that I did not care if he got angry and just because there were plenty of smart answers to this question; ‘Because you say we have to have a talk now . . . Because you are bored and want to have a conversation . . . Because you have been spanking me for so long you have forgotten why you started . . . ” and a few others I had tried in the past and been very sorry I did. I found that I cared a great deal if he got angry.
But Legolas never really got angry angry. He never lost his temper with me at any time. But he seemed to come inside of me and take charge. Legolas got . . . bigger when he did this. He became a very big, very powerful elf. He was unbelievably strong. Like now, with his endless spanking arm never stopping . . . paddling down so sharply and with perfect elvish aim.
I could not gall him, and though it would have seemed unwise to want to do that when I was in this position, I often did indeed want to gall him. Still, I could not, because it seemed that Legolas grew more patience the minute he locked me over his knee. I would never been able to outlast him. His arm never tired. His will never faltered. And he would not stop spanking me. And it seemed very unfair.
So if I misbehaved with what he called ‘inappropriate impertinence,’ he became . . . he became almost sad, and sometimes a little amused and sad. But not so sad that he forgave my sauciness. He would paddle harder for a few swats, and when he asked his question again, I would always be happy to respond as he wished. One time he had said: “Your answers tell me much. I then know how far we have yet to go.” I was in no shape right now to go any farther, or to give him any answer other than what he expected. Iwanted to answer right, show him I knew how to answer right. It felt good to answer right.
“B-Because w-we need to underst-stand each other.”
“How wise of you, Estel. It is very important that we understand each other right now, is it not?”
“Aye!” Oh please, Legolas, please.
“Tell me then. Why are you being spanked?”
Another perfect opening for ‘inappropriate impertinence.’ But, again, I had no wish right now to make this last longer. Sometimes, though, as his questions got harder, I got the answers wrong, not because I was trying to be bad, but because I was often so confused at this point, my thinking slow, and I could not find the right reply. But Legolas would know when I was lost, and he always helped me. I thought I had the right answer now, though.
“Because I-I put soap in your mouth, and-and in Boromir-mir’s mouth?”
I heard only the sound his spanks and my constant ragged crying and low explosions of breath with each blow. Not the right answer. He was letting me think.
“Take your time, my sweet Ranger-child,” he said with soft patience. “Remember what happened that day. Think back on what you felt.”
Oh! Yes! “I lost m-my tem-temper.”
“Better. Very good, little one!”
His approval flowed over me, warm and comforting, building something stronger within, coaxing back a little of myself. I wanted more.
“I-I am be-being sp-sp--” The words kept catching in my throat, but he would not stop; I had to get them out. “--b-being spanked because I-I lost my temp-per.”
“Yes, indeed. Very good, Estel! How wise you are. You did indeed lose your temper,” he said, his voice soothing. “There is more, though. What happened next, sweetling?”
He was slowing his spanks now, letting me think, and it helped. He was in no way finished with me, but this slowing helped. I could think better, remember more, and concentrate, the throbbing heat in my bottom sharpening my focus to a finer point. And now, with my mind clearing, it was even harder, not because I did not know the answers, but because I did.
“I abused my-my power. I-I got angry.”
“Ah. So you did.”
“I was t-too rough. I was so mad . . . I s-should not have done that . . . it was w-wrong of m-me . . . .”
I buried my face in my arms and began crying to myself, remembering everything too well now, too clearly, how out of control I had been, Boromir’s shocked expression, my anger exploding beyond my ability to stop it, and Legolas, so calm and understanding, far more so than I deserved . . . .
And now the rest came flowing in too, the concerned looks of the others flashing in my mind, my withdrawal over the past few days, turning away from kind words and choosing to isolate myself . . . and my treatment of Pippin earlier! Oh, Pip! Oh poor little hobbit!
I knew very well what I had done to him today, how I should have disciplined him at once, after his first infraction. Legolas would have likely been saved the need of being lowered over the cliff if I had. After that I had caught a glimpse of Pippin’s shattered expression, seen the questioning amazement, in his eyes. Yet, I had walked away! I had wounded him, ignoring every screaming urge within me to go back and deal with him, be the Strider he knew, the man they all knew. A horrible sensation bubbled and rose within me like a thick, oozing blackness. How could I have done such a hurtful thing to the little one, left him like that? How?
I had done it because I had selfishly wanted to feel worse, wanted to invite more darkness. Ever since that wretched soap incident, my world had closed in more and more, grown bleaker and lonelier, and I had slipped further away from any kind of feeling, anything that would touch me and maybe let some of that old Aragorn back in.
And now I wanted to just lie there forever, let Legolas spank me forever. But in the next instant my breath caught in my throat because . . . because he had stopped! Legolas had stopped. I was alone with this, no hand cracking across my hot skin, no comforting next swat, painful and deserved, and I was too weary to explode into rebellious action. I just lay there, quietly crying, my backside burning and a fresh, raw fire scorching my insides. I heard him calling.
I opened my eyes a slit.
“You know I shall not continue if you leave. Stay with me, beloved.”
“Le-Leg’las,” I grated, barely able to whisper, hardly able to draw a clear breath. “Leg’las, please . . . please . . . hurts . . . hurts to think . . . .”
“I know,” he said, his voice full of compassion. “It hurts to remember. But we must, lest these orc-ish thoughts continue to poison you. I shall not leave my cherished love to suffer those orcs any longer. So let us face them together. You are not alone, Estel. I am here. And you know you cannot hide from me. I shall not allow it. So come now, my brave little Ranger, and we shall take them on as we ever have. Are you with me?”
I raised my head and nodded once.
“Ah, that’s it. Good. Such courage! Very good. You are not permitted to slip away like that, are you?”
“Of course, sweetling brat. Where were we?”
I cried out as his hand swatted down again. Amazing how a brief interlude made the next spank so much worse. He continued, and I struggled now to focus, do what had to be done, what I could no longer avoid, what Legolas would not let me avoid.
“I got a-angry,” I said, forcing my voice to steady through my gasps and cries, forcing my breath to regulate and my mind to clear, not an easy task when my behind was blazing, but the challenge of it struck a determined note within me. “I got angry and I-I took that an-anger out on you, and on B-Boromir. I abused my p-power.”
“Like Frodo did tonight.”
I paused to think for a moment . . . something Frodo had said flashing through my head, his wide eyes gazing up at me . . . “We are alike, you and I.”
I winced under an especially hard spank. “OW! Aye! L-Like Frodo!”
“Frodo became angry with Sam because he hates Sam’s interfering and because his servant was being a nuisance.
“No!” I blinked, knowing what Legolas was doing, yet falling right into step with him regardless. “No.”
“Ah, then perhaps he became angry because Sam challenged his authority.”
“N-No. I mean, yes . . . yes, b-but that cannot be . . . that does not feel like the only reason.” I thought more deeply. “He got angry be-because . . . I don’t know why he got angry.”
Legolas paused again and rested his hand on my throbbing behind. I would have been grateful for the break, but I knew he would soon start again and it would be most unpleasant.
“Ah, indeed. I did not tell you a part of this story,” he said. “Frodo came to me with an idea, and I soundly refused him, because it was foolish and dangerous, and I --”
“What idea?” I interrupted, instantly alarmed. Frodo and a dangerous idea? A very hard swat made me yelp and remember my manners. “OW! Sorry! S-Sorry.”
“You shall not interrupt me again, little boy. It does not matter what his idea was. I am betraying his confidence enough in simply telling you he had it. I thwarted his scheme at once, and he did not like that. He was embarrassed and angry, but he had to accept it. Then, for some reason surpassing understanding, Frodo confessed the matter to Sam.”
I sucked a sharp breath. “But . . . .”
“Leg’las . . . Frodo . . . F-Frodo would know what would h-happen if he told S-Sam. Would he not?”
“Indeed. I feel certain Frodo did know, my clever Estel.” I heard the smile in his voice. “Sam reacted as you would expect, as I feel Frodo hoped he would. So our Ringbearer was once again, in a sense, running into those woods, was he not? Asking Sam to follow him and deal with him?”
“Aye.” I focused straight ahead, thoughts firing quickly, and Legolas was saying those thoughts just as I was thinking them, as if reading them in my mind:
“But Frodo could never directly ask this of Sam. He would never ask for help or discipline, especially when he felt so confused and cross and out of control.”
A small sob escaped me. “N-No.”
“No. But why, sweetling? Why did Frodo feel he needed attention at all? Why did he run into those woods as he had before? What made him tell Sam this when he knew how Sam was likely to react?”
He resumed his swats, and I cried out again, surprised, and certainly dismayed, but this was our procedure, so I knew to expect it. Now, however, I also focused on what Legolas had said. Frodo had run from Boromir’s relentless training session out of defiance and embarrassment and frustration. All of those things had hit him again with this thwarted scheme of his, plus the power of the Ring which was no doubt affecting him. It all made sense. I saw it clearly. I did not wait to be asked, knowing Legolas was expecting an answer as soon as I had it, and knowing that he would follow my meaning, so out it all spilled in a mess of jumbled images and thoughts.
“Frodo was angry because he was f-frustrated in his scheme. He-He was told something he did not want to hear, just as Boromir kept telling him to practice, and he-he was embarrassed because he could not fight well, and he was afraid Sam thought less of him for his foolish scheme, and he was already smarting because he felt you thought less of him, as he thought everyone else thought less of him because he could not fight well, even though they did not think less of him, as I am sure you did not.”
“No, I did not think less of him, little one,” Legolas said, chuckling softly. “But, like another I know, our Frodo is stubborn, so I had to clearly state how foolhardy his idea was. I also told him that would not be sitting comfortably if he pressed the matter further. So what happened to Frodo when Sam reacted with his expected anger and concern and bluster?”
I did not answer. I stared off ahead of me, seeing nothing, a thunderbolt of understanding crashing into me. I barely felt the spanks raining down harder, barely heard Legolas call my name several times, and then finally I shuddered and choked out an answer, now crying again.
“F-Frodo lost control of his temper, because he-he felt hurt and embarrassed and be-betrayed.”
Legolas slowed and lightened his spanks and murmured, “Why did he feel betrayed, beloved?”
“Be-Because he thought that S-Sam agreed with y-you and not with him. He did not like that.”
“True, I am sure he did not like that.”
“H-He thought Sam was showing disloyalty.”
“Was Sam showing disloyalty?”
“Did Sam think less of him, sweetling?”
“What did Sam and I really think? What did we both show Frodo by opposing him?”
“You-You both love him! You showed your l-love by-by—saying no.”
“Do you think Frodo really and truly thought Sam was being disloyal, deep in his heart?”
Legolas kept spanking steadily and I held on to that physical anchor, squeezing my fists tightly, feeling his never-ending application of attention and care, his tireless devotion. He let me lay weeping and taking his spanking, and then he finally slowed again and I heard his soft voice:
“Estel, was Boromir showing disloyalty by opposing you and defending me?” I could do nothing but shake my head, but he accepted it.
“Were you embarrassed by his protests?”
I nodded, unable to speak.
“Why, little boy?”
A few choking sobs burst out before I could answer. “B-Because he was r-right.”
“He was right? Then you should have let it all go, what you had told me I had coming to me, and what you had said that you intended to do?”
I hesitated, confused. “I-I . . . no, no, I h-had to-to--”
“You had to follow through, did you not?”
“So, was Boromir right?”
So hard to think this through. “He-He was wrong to-to interfere.”
“Aye, he was. I told him so, and he agreed and regretted his actions, Estel.”
I opened my sore eyes, listening, remembering how Boromir and Legolas had both tried to talk to me that night, when I would not listen.
“But you felt hurt by his words, and frustrated, and embarrassed. You really did not like having to use that soap, but you had said you would, and you felt you had to do it. And to have Boromir opposing you so aggressively, this man who adored you, your ‘little fledgling,’ it must have felt dreadful, sweetling, as dreadful as Frodo felt when his loyal Sam challenged him, siding with me.”
“Your temper grew. Fast. Almost out of control, was it not, little one? Frightening. And it was not making sense.”
“Shhh, Estel you are doing fine. Hold on. Just a little more, sweetling.”
I nodded, weeping and hiccuping, lost in his words.
“Sam heard Frodo’s cry for help; deep inside, he heard it. He saw it in Frodo’s confession and in his show of temper. When Boromir saw you with that soap in your hand, do you think he sided with me only to protect me, or because he saw you hurting yourself in what you were about to do?”
I thought back, cloudy images mixing with the endless spanks, the images so much more painful than my aching bottom, Boromir staring at me in disbelief, gazing at me as if he did not know me: “What has gotten into you? Aragorn? What are you doing?”
This suddenly went beyond me. I sobbed and said, “I-I do n-not know.” I truly did not. I felt I should be able to reason the rest of this out, but I needed help, I needed Legolas to walk me through this. “Please,” I breathed. “P-Please, help me, Leg’las!”
He sighed deeply. “Ah, my dearest Ranger-child. Such musical words.”
Legolas gently lifted me, his arms incredibly strong, gathering me up from his lap as if I weighed no more than Frodo, even though I was so limp and weak I could offer him no help, but could only allow him to move me. My lightheadedness settled some after he finished moving us to the grass and draped me across his body as I always did him.
I was not certain he was done spanking me. Indeed, he might have more planned. He often did, feeling a break to talk was needed and then a session to deal with what lingering guilt needed to be erased. But for now, this felt so good. My uncooperative behind still refused to go numb and it was now throbbing beyond belief, beyond the ability of the cool night air to lessen its fire, so I hoped we were in this position for the night and I would not be re-visiting that unyielding elvish knee. But such was not my determination to make, and so be it.
“Now,” he said, kissing my head. “You did so well, and you asked so bravely for help, so indeed you deserve it. But, first, breathe softly for me. Take a moment to lie quietly upon me, feel my heartbeat close to yours. Rest before we talk, my Ranger-child.”
I smiled at his pet name. Uttered in common tongue, it somehow sounded more childish, and I should have squirmed. But Legolas, with his unfailing devotion and extraordinary skill, had once more settled me safely in this place where I could hear it, where he could treat me as if I was that child he used to care for and train and teach with such immortal patience.
I rubbed my face against the softness of his tunic, breathing in that delectable scent of elf, an alluringly sweet scent, and loving the familiar feel of him. From the time when I was a young lad, some of my finest memories were the ones when Legolas had been there, to hear me and hold me when I cried at night, to guide me when I grew frustrated, to teach me to laugh at myself and enjoy small and treasured moments as they came. He disciplined me when I needed it, which was often. And as I grew and matured, he loved me through all my weaknesses and tempers and flaws. He never failed to make me feel that I was more than what I thought I was, and he made me want to be more than I ever thought I could be.
Legolas had ever been a true and constant force, loving me through everything, allowing me my adulthood when I achieved it, becoming to me what I had been to him, yielding to me the dominant role . . . nay, relishing me in that dominant role, as did I, both of us knowing what was right for us. Legolas had ever been the stronger one, and not only physically, yet he gladly relinquished that strength to me. And still he could bring me to this place when I needed to be here, when I needed someone who was stronger than I felt at the moment.
Tomorrow I would be healed and ready to retake my place in the Fellowship, and Legolas would revel in watching me assume leadership. His brilliant blue eyes would shine with pride as they always did when I had vanquished my darkness, even though he was the one who had made that triumph possible. He would defer to me, and follow my lead. And I would feel that sense of who I was mirrored in my loving elf’s gaze. Tomorrow I would be Aragorn again.
But tonight I was his. I was safe being his Ranger-child, now, in this brief time, in this quiet, peaceful night full of stars. My backside throbbed, reminding me with every shift of my body of his devotion and care. This was all I wanted for now. For always. Just to know it was here for me when needed, and that my Legolas was watching out for me.
I felt a cool dampness on my cheek and I realized I had been weeping silently though my thoughts, my tears now soaking his tunic. I ran my fingertips over the fabric and I heard him make a small sound. Turning my head, I saw his soft grin.
“Good tears,” he said. “Fret not. They enhance the cloth.”
How was he possible? I inched up and kissed him, and it quickly blossomed at my bidding into something more deep and wet and increasingly heated. I longed to kept at it, but Legolas pulled me back down and firmly stated, “Stop that, little bratling. We are not finished by a long measure, so lie back down where you were and behave, or I shall haul you back up onto this rock and refocus your attention on these matters in a way that shall make you a very unhappy little Ranger indeed.”
I winced and slid back down and laid my head down on his chest at once.
“Now, we were talking of Frodo and Sam. And we were talking of Boromir and soap and the situation that took you from me for these many days and nights. Focus on that, sweetling, and we shall rid ourselves of these fell beasts of conjecture once and for all.”
“Good. The first thing we shall do is go back, further back than the soap, back to the first night we left Imladris, remember?”
I listened, riveted, his voice reaching inside me. “The night I spanked you.”
“Aye, and with much too much enthusiasm,” he muttered. I grinned to myself and he went on. “Why did you spank me that night?”
“There were several reasons,” I replied. “You had listened in on a private conversation between Boromir and I and found out that I had disciplined him, and you were also rude to him from the balcony. And then that night you aggravated him on purpose by using very vulgar elvish.”
I heard Legolas smirk. “Aye, that I did. So I deserved that spanking and that soaping, did I not?”
“You most certainly did. You had been behaving badly, especially to Boromir.”
“Very well, enough!” he said firmly before I went into more detail. “We agree that I deserved it, and needed it and, in fact, wanted it. Now, think back to when we were returning to camp afterwards. What did you say?”
I narrowed my eyes. “I said I liked seeing you walk right after you had been spanked.” He leaned down and gave my behind a smart swat. “Ow!” I yelled before I could stop myself. My body arched as if trying to lessen the sting.
“You know I do not mean that, young bratling. What else did you say?”
I knew what he meant, my mind racing ahead, an old and uncomfortable feeling creeping up on me. “I asked you to forgive me. You found out on your own that I had spanked Boromir, and I should have talked to you about it, and prepared you, so that you would not have to had to suffer the knowledge of it alone. I failed in my duty to you.”
“Indeed! Very good. And what did I say when you asked for this forgiveness?”
“You said that the fault was yours because you had listened to a private conversation when you should not have. You would not accept my apology.”
“I would not accept it because it was not needed,” he said. “Go on, beloved. You are doing so well. You tried to apologize for something else, too.”
“Aye.” I winced. “That night when you left my chamber, after you and Boromir fought, and after I had spanked him and settled him . . . .” I paused and swallowed hard. Legolas kissed the top of my head and I went on. “I-I did not seek you out to ease your mind. I fell asleep."
“Aye,” he said against my hair. “You were tired, little one.”
“I failed you again. And then the next day--”
“You did not fail me, sweetling. You fell asleep. And the next day a certain wizard decided quite suddenly that we would leave at once, as soon as we were ready, did he not?”
“Did you have time to deal with a sulky elf?”
“I . . . I--”
“Did you deal with me as soon as you were able to, that very night, in fact, when my watch was finished?”
“But when I pointed all this out to you, when I insisted that I could not allow you to blame yourself for any of it, did you let it go?”
I did not respond.
“Estel. In your innermost self, did you let it go?”
“I . . . .” He leaned over again, well within swat range. Strangely, just that threat was all it took for my bottom to blaze in fresh fire. “No! No, I did not let it go.”
“Ahhh.” He eased back. “And so a week passes, and you suddenly recall what you had told me you would do with the soap.”
I pressed my face against his tunic, wishing I did not have to hear more of this. “Legolas, please . . . .”
“We can do this here or we can resume our position up on the rock. My arm is not tired, little Ranger.”
“Here! I choose here!” I heard his smile.
“So already there is a destructive orc sitting in your mind, still very much alive, still making you feel badly for your so called ‘failure’ to meet my needs, was there not?”
“And you would not fail me again. You would follow through on what you had said you would do, my steadfast captain. I was going to get my mouth washed out with soap.”
I groaned. “Aye.”
“But a certain young warrior from Gondor, a certain obstinate, headstrong, inflexible young man decided to interfere.”
I clung more tightly to him, fastening myself to his warm strong body, holding on, my eyes shut, still pressing my face against him, wanting to crawl inside him, safe from that awful scene that began washing over me again. Legolas held me close, his arms sure and solid, and he kept narrating in his gentle tone, demanding that I listen.
“He challenged you, defied you. He would not leave even when you threatened his backside. He said he would remain at his ‘big brother’s’ side.”
A small sob escaped before I could stop it, pain surging again. I tried to swallow it back, choking on it, and I struggled to pull away from him, a stupid attempt as my breeches were at my knees and he had no intention of letting me go.
Before I knew what was happening, Legolas once more, with his impossible strength, hauled me up onto the rock, and back into position over his knees, holding me in place, and now he began spanking me again, not as hard as before, but hard enough, and steadily. I cried out and writhed, my sore bottom igniting again, bright stars of fire exploding within me at his every swat.
“No more, my sweet Ranger-child, no more.” Legolas said with gentle calm. “I shall not allow this to remain within you to torment you. Release it. Now, little boy.”
I tried kicking, bucking away, anything, and, as I had expected, nothing worked. There was only the white-hot fiery spanks lashing me, plunging me deeper into that place he was forcing me to go. I did not want to go back there, and yet . . . and yet, he would not stop, he would make me do this. I had to . . . had to --
So I shattered. I buried my face in my crossed arms and collapsed into repeated sobs, so much rising within me I felt I could not breathe. Every muscle ached, exhausted after hours of fighting and tensing. I lay helpless to hold back my small and miserable kicking. Embarrassment washed over me, followed by a fear that my squirming might be viewed as further rebellion.
But a boyish voice within me knew, perhaps from past experience, that Legolas also realized what had just happened: “Legolas knows you cannot help it . . . so just wiggle as you must,” that artless voice told me with a shrug. “you cannot hold still . . . you just have to squirm, and he knows you are not being naughty, but you have to kick, that’s all there is . . . it just hurts . . . all there is, just a sore, sore bottom.” I cringed at the childish sound of that inner voice, yet I listened, knowing from the lighter spanks Legolas had suddenly started to deliver that the voice was right.
Legolas released a barely-whispered, “Mmm. There is that little one I know. No more rebellion. No more control. Good boy, Estel.”
Aye, he did know. He read the jerkiness of my moves, the helplessness of them. I lay vanquished and weeping and stripped of any control, everything within me open for him to see. And yet I was entirely safe.
“I know it is hard, sweetling,” he said, his voice soothing, “but you shall talk to me now. Tell me. I shall not stop until you do.”
“He-He chose y-you . . . I-I be-became--” I coughed and choked, the tears nearly strangling me. I could not stop what came pouring out, words that surprised me, as if I myself were hearing it now for the first time, and I could not restrain myself.
“Became what, my love?”
“B-Bad. I-I became the en-enemy. I w-was the-the-the discipl--”
I nodded and wept, sputtering, too overcome to speak. But Legolas understood and in his compassion he spoke for me.
“Mmmm . . . suddenly the outsider,” he said. “No longer Thorongil. No longer the first in the affections of your adoring young fledgling. Those loyalties had turned against you. And you saw it in an instant, that change of loyalty. You felt alone, even dishonorable in what you had to do. And you became angry, little boy. How could you not become angry? How could you not give in to temper? Suddenly, and against your desires, you were now the harsh authoritarian, the tyrant. That was not what you wanted, nor what you intended. It was not fair, such a judgment!”
I had never heard the kind of sobbing that came from me then. I wanted him to stop, and yet, I did not want him to stop, because, miraculously, without my saying a word, Legolas was hearing me, hearing all the hurt inside.
He had heard me all along. He knew. And as awful as it was listening to all that spoken aloud, it was also a release so profound it ripped the sobs from my chest. It was outside me now, all that darkness; he was pulling it outside of me. And Legolas continued to allow the writhing I could not stop, the instinctive kicks, reading my submission through the helplessness of my movements.
“Such anger,” he went on. “You felt such anger to be thought so little of, abandoned by one who had held you in high esteem. Like Frodo tonight, such humiliation, such loss of regard. Who would not seek help to become free of those terrible thoughts and feelings, sweetling? Who would not yearn to feel worthy again, have his sense of value restored to him? Who would not do whatever he must, even abuse his power, as a cry for help?”
I froze, nearly stopped breathing, except for what few frantic explosions of air burst in short gasps from my aching lungs. Legolas stopped spanking. We both held perfectly still, and his words, utter truth, hung in the quiet dark.
“I saw it reflected in your eyes that day,” he murmured. “I saw your inner anguish, your cry for help. You fought your own loss of control the whole time you were using that soap. I saw your tears, little boy. And I also saw your terrible fear. So now, tell me of that fear. Shhh, try now. Tell me.”
I did try. I lifted my head and stared off, seeing only a blur of night through my tears, and I went deep inside and found something lying there, something that had perhaps steered my course, unbidden and unnoticed by me for several days, remaining concealed until this moment, like a vicious poisonous insect, easily hidden and bearing a sting powerful enough to cause tremendous pain. I shuddered and coughed and a few words formed, my voice raw now and rasping. “I-I thought . . . li-like m-my k-kin. Same b-blood. S-same weak-weakness. I-I lost c-control. W-Weak. Like my kin. I could not r-risk that again. I did not want to h-hurt anyone like that again, especially n-not the little ones.”
I felt a small tremor coursing through him. “Ohhh, my poor little one. Aye, such thoughts would occur to you, and frighten you, but shhhh. There is no weakness in you, beloved, and no more evil in you because of what you did than there is in little Frodo because of what he did. Both of you had only a need, like we all have, to be noticed and heard and seen. To be helped when we cannot help ourselves. To be loved. It was not the blood of your ancestors that drove your actions that day, it was that need.”
And then, Legolas reached into the deepest part of me, tenderly bringing forth what I had been unable to look at. He made it safe to look at it, and with his soft and mesmerizing voice, my exquisite elf touched that raw part of me with compassion and love.
“Sweetling, deep within you lies the answer. That day, when Boromir opposed you and told you he would stay by my side, something tore open within you. Instantly. The little boy, the one I love, my Ranger-child burst into tears.”
I shivered and moaned deep in my throat. I covered my face with my hands, lowering my head down onto them, trying to remember how to breathe, and Legolas went on.
“Of course you would be wounded to think that Boromir’s first loyalties now lay with me, that he ‘preferred’ me to you, or that he was even, perhaps, beginning to have deeper feelings, or was beginning to form a strong attachment to me, one that might replace you. Oh, how that hurt! Terribly! Instantly! And you were about to do this humiliating thing to me, not to abuse me, but because you had to.
“But, Estel, Boromir, too, was suddenly assaulted by a powerful force: He saw only what he thought was unjust. In his mind, he saw Denethor and Faramir, not Aragorn and Legolas.”
I jerked at the notion, a hot rush shooting through me. Oh! I even groaned it aloud: “Ohhhhhhh!”
“Hush, little one!” he said quickly. “Do not blame yourself for not seeing it! You could not have seen it then, for you also were under sudden attack. At once fear slammed into you: What if I returned Boromir’s love? We had grown so close, so quickly. My new ‘little brother.’ What if I preferred him to you and I moved away from you in my heart, too, as he had clearly done? Where did that leave you? What would you become then if not an outsider? Some isolated enforcer. Alone. Distancing yourself more with every necessary act of correction. Little wonder you would begin to despise that role and shrug it off.”
My weeping had begun again, unbridled. I could do nothing but lay and shed tears and listen as he continued to move with elvish grace and infinite care through my most nightmarish pain.
“And if Boromir and I cleaved to each other and left you, how could you bear the loss? Who would you be then? How would you go on alone, watching the two of us grow closer day by day, feeling more and more isolated, forsaken, unable to even show that pain or allow yourself to fully indulge it? How weak you would appear if you did! How pitiable. You should be happy for us, should you not? How could you be so selfish as to deny us your happiness?”
His words were excruciating in their truth. I could scarce bear to listen and yet I longed to hear more, wondering if he could keep on like this, keep finding every vulnerable, naked corner of my soul with such frightening precision. It was both appalling and fascinating and I could not turn away. All I could do was cry into my soaked palms and listen.
“It all hit you in that instant, with lightening speed, and your response was anguish and fury and hurt.: You used that soap as a weapon, hating yourself every moment, wounding your sense of integrity, yet needing to strike back somehow, to hurt us back as we had hurt you, and punishing yourself in the doing.
“And I imagine during your watch that night you paced and tried to work it out in your mind, pushing away any thought of confessing such humiliating feelings to us, even to me alone, hating your need. You longed for what we wanted most, for our happiness, and by now you were convinced that what we wanted did not include you. So you had to be accepting of that and graciously step away from both of us.
“I know your sense of honor, sweetling. I know that you would accept nothing less from yourself. But the pain of it was staggering and finally you reached that place I go to, a closed off cell of indifference. When you found us later that night, cuddled together as we were, that anger surged, that hurt tried to resurface, and you slammed the door shut on any feelings, and you have stayed there since. My poor solitary Estel. Locked in there since.”
My head shot up and those inhuman sobs burst free again, loud, exploding from my burning throat and aching chest. Legolas scooped me up and held me and I fell over him, lost in tears, weak beyond belief, fully exposed.
“My sweet Ranger-child,” he murmured. “I need not tell you that none of these terrible imaginings of yours were true. You are the keystone for us all, and especially for your devoted fledgling and me. Our love is linked through you, our hearts first connected to yours. And there is no shame in anything you felt, not your fear nor your despair. No need for disgrace.” He held me closer, crushing me to him. “Estel, your immense heart bestows compassion and understanding on all others. Please, my beloved, grant some of that now to the Ranger-child I hold most dear. He deserves it so.”
I buried my face in his long silky mane and lost myself to its softness, soaking it with my tears. I grabbed fistfuls of his clothing and squeezed and twisted, feeling his unmovable form remain steady as painful ricochets raced around inside me. He stroked my hair and rocked slightly, and after a while my body, too exhausted to remain tense for long, collapsed again.
We sat like that for a long time, Legolas holding me upright, me sagging upon him, my head falling over his shoulder, my weeping continuous. I kept quivering involuntarily, my backside so sore I wondered how is was possible I could sit there upon his lap. But soon I began to quiet, soothed by his rocking, by his scent, his body and the warmth of his shielding arms around me, his hands rubbing my back. A sweet peace flowed through me. I moved my fingertips into the tender, long strands of his hair, barely able to feel them, they were so soft.
“Estel,” he finally murmured. “I would talk to you now. Are you up to that, sweetling?”
My voice sounded distant, but surprisingly steady. “Aye.”
He rubbed my back a bit longer, then said, “Good. Now, Frodo bears a Ring of great evil and terrible power. Is he then a creature of great evil and terrible power?”
I drew up from his shoulder to look at him, then I instantly whimpered and bit my bottom lip, hot licks of pain coursing through me from my backside. He watched me for a moment, then he eased me backwards. I sniffled every time my bottom shifted on his thigh, but of course Legolas noticed this and smiled softly.
“Ah, poor, tender, little-boy behind,” he said lovingly, and I felt a hot blush color my cheeks. “Shh, give me but a moment, pen-neth.”
In one smooth move he slid my bottom to the side and off his lap entirely, his strong arm holding me up, then he eased both my legs over his lap. The shift sent a roaring flow of blood back into my scalding bottom and I cried out and writhed, but he kept going until my weight was supported by his arm braced behind my back, his hand cupping my side.
When the hot shudders of painful movement ceased, I swallowed hard and gazed directly at him, at the smooth beauty of his face, calm and exquisite and shimmering in the moonlight, and I marveled at his strength, how easily he just held me upright, my whole upper body supported on his arm, my legs draped over his thighs, my bottom free from any pressure. I tensed my stomach muscles, struggling to hold myself up, keep my entire weight from his arm.
He smiled now, softly, gently, affectionately. “Let go, little one. Relax. You know I have you. We have done this before. And your burden challenges me no more than a hobbit would challenge you did you have him thus.”
Another flush warmed my cheeks, making his eyes sparkle. Legolas could have such an effect on me, taking me back to a time when I was indeed hobbit-sized and fully trusting of his strength. I did remember him holding me like this, and not long ago. I was sitting up, my eyes nearly level with his, just a little lower, and yet, I felt strangely . . . small. My fingers remembered their old pattern as well, moving to play with the ties of my shirt. I relaxed every muscle, and felt no shift in him, no sway from the taking on of my burden.
“That is better. Come, my sweet Ranger-child. The answers shine clearly in your beautiful eyes. So, come, speak truth to me as you feel it in your heart. Let us move through the steps of this dance and vanquish this darkness, for I long to have my Estel restored whole to me.”
I nodded, spellbound by him, feeling a sweet sudden quickening, an understanding just beyond my sight range that I knew he was about to illuminate fully.
“Answer me, now. Is Frodo a creature of great evil and terrible power?”
“Of course not. Frodo’s essence is one of good.”
“Do you think it is possible that he fears the Ring might corrupt him, turn him to evil?”
“As you fear the blood of your ancestors shall corrupt you.”
I paused. “Aye.”
“And this sets the two of you apart from all others, this shadow of darkness.”
Again I paused, then: “Aye.”
“So Sam will eventually turn away from Frodo, then, as indeed all will.”
I frowned. “N-No.” I began to feel somewhat stupid. He was, of course, trying to awaken something within me, bring forth what he knew was already there, alive in my thoughts, what he intended to reveal to me. But now I suddenly was so very tired, my mind feeling as heavy and listless as my body. Everything just hurt. Every muscle felt weakened from hours of wrenching exertion, and the burning heat drenching my bottom distracted my thoughts.
“Sam shall be driven away by Frodo’s growing darkness then.”
“Legolas, you know he shall not,” I responded, now becoming slightly annoyed.
“Aye, but do you know it, Estel? The link that joins Frodo’s life to yours is woven of the same threads. Your essence, like his, is one of good. You believe that a darkness touches your life, infecting your blood, as the Ring’s darkness touches Frodo’s life, resting everyday upon his delicate skin, seeping into him. But no darkness, whether flowing through your veins or speaking to Frodo’s heart, can kill the essence of goodness within you both.
“That remains, sweetling. That unfailing goodness compels Frodo to call for help, to give in to his temper, or run off to the woods, or denigrate Sam. And it compels you to call for help, give into your temper, close yourself off, and ignore a needy little halfling. It is your goodness that hears me now. It seeks redemption and feels deserving of help, and it whispers truth to you, so that you already know these answers deep in your heart.”
I did know. I knew his words before he spoke them, remembering them from some deep store of knowledge. I had said similar words to him in the past, yet I had been unable to find them within myself, nor hear them whispering when lost in my own darkness.
I rubbed my teary eyes with my fists. Frodo had done this exact thing a few nights earlier. I stopped quickly and glanced at the Legolas who was smiling at me with soft indulgence, the way I knew I had smiled at Frodo that night. I returned a shy grin.
My limbs ached with weariness, and I suddenly needed to reach down and delicately touch the hot surface of my bottom, just barely, just enough to feel that heat emanating from the outside as it was within, the throbbing reminding me of how much I had needed this. I could not have found this place on my own. I would have continued to sit alone in the dark night, surrounded by the horrors my mind had conjured, were it not for my Legolas.
I released a soft explosion of breath and a short, plaintive cry, tremors of soreness shooting through me. I looked at him and sniffled, attempting to reap a little pity. True, I was feeling loved and grateful to him, and yet, he had spanked me so much and so hard! I could not help pouting at him a little. Relentless elf. Legolas studied me, letting me think, his patient gaze locked on mine.
“Aye, your bottom smarts, and the part of you that knows of its own goodness is what invited that spanking, Estel, nay, demanded it. That goodness is what saves Frodo, and it is what saves you as well. No blood is stronger than that.
“True evil does not openly show itself. It does not wish to be seen and therefore invite downfall. But goodness reaches out through action. And your actions of the past few days, my dearest little Ranger, have spoken most clearly. Have they not?”
“Aye, Legolas.” I smiled softly and suddenly.
“So this darkness within you and Frodo, does it rule either of you, Estel? Or has your goodness spoken for you both?”
It was a staggering realization, and yet, as he had rightly pointed out, I knew now that I had held this understanding in my heart all along. It brought tears to my eyes. A pure surge of relief coursed through me. Legolas had brought me here and shown me the truth of that darkness, shown it for what it was, my own creation. It did not define or rule me.
I released a soft smile at his urging. “The darkness does not rule either of us.”
“Ah. Wise young human.”
Tears tickled down my cheeks and Legolas grinned and reached out with his finger, touching the wetness, saying, “I am surprised you have any of these left in you. Shall I do what I used to when you were a child and awakened by bad dreams?” He pulled his finger back, showing me the quivering teardrop hanging from his fingertip, then he flicked it off and it vanished into the night. He smiled at me.
I smiled back, thinking back to a few nights earlier. “Boromir liked that, too.”
He took on a faint look of surprise. “You saw me do that?”
“Aye. You hadn’t noticed me yet.”
He watched me a moment, then said, “Ah, more hurt to add to the hurt you felt at finding us like that.”
“Aye,” I whispered.
“I shared such a thing with him, something that was yours from childhood.”
He sighed, his eyes reflecting a sudden sadness. “My poor Estel. What you have endured--” He sighed again.
I moved in closer to kiss him, and, seeing my intent, he leaned over so that I would not have to strain, and this time when my kiss became longer and more lingering, he allowed it. Finally I pulled back and touched my forehead to his and murmured, “I have suffered what was of my own making, and you came and found me in that darkness, and you brought me out of that desolate place, as you ever have. Thank you.”
I hugged him, wrapping my arms tightly around his shoulders. I curled down over him and rubbed my face into the cascade of shimmering satin flowing down his back. “I love you,” I said, barely above a whisper and I said it again, several times, like a litany, wanting to surround him with it, wrap him to me with it, overwhelm him as he always overwhelmed me, as he just had with his loving patience and relentless spanking that left a fire now radiating fiercely with my every move.
I felt him shifting, scooping me up once more as though I were a halfling. I whimpered, but I made myself relax against him, letting him do with me what he would. He stood, holding me up, just above the ground, draped upon him, his one powerful arm around my waist and the other under the curve of my simmering behind.
He just swayed there for a few minutes, his own murmured litany now melting into me, “I love you as well, my Ranger-child.” He went on, repeating loving phrases in the melodious, sweet-sounding high-elvish, Quenya, so lyrical, like music, so soothing.
I felt him moving somewhere and I opened my eyes a crack. He headed over to retrieve my cloak, and then he went down to the grass again, taking me with him, this time settling me directly on top of him, another favorite position after he had spanked me. He lifted his head and I slid my arms underneath for him to use as a pillow.
He had once told me, “I would prefer to lie atop you and have you on the bottom right now, but I cannot do that to your poor backside.” And I’d smiled, and said quietly, “Legolas, I may be atop you, but I am on the bottom.” I grinned now at the memory, because it often came back to me when we were in this position. Legolas gazed up at me, his eyes glittering.
“Aye, little Ranger,” he said with a clever grin. “You are indeed on the bottom.”
I grinned with him, and he reached down to gingerly cup my blazing cheeks.
“Oooowwwww!” I softly wailed, arching my back. “Legolas! Ow, ow, ow!”
He released a quiet laugh, “Ah, I know, poor, tender-bottomed little boy.” I frowned at him and he hummed in sympathy and said, “Oh, such a pout! Cannot bear even a gentle touch? No nice light rubbing?”
“Oh, please!” I groaned. “No. Please, nothing.”
“Breeches left down then?”
I shuddered. “Yes! Down. Please, leave them down. Do not pull them up.”
Again his eyes positively glittered. “I would not dream of it,” he murmured. He swirled my cape up and over me. “You must suffer at least a little pressure from this, though. The night is cool, and you always begin to chill after being so well-behaved for me.”
I bit my lower lip as my cloak floated down atop my simmering bottom. He was right; I would begin to chill, although I felt another blush at his childish description of what had happened here. I had indeed been ‘well-behaved for him,’ and such always left me too drained to fight off cold or the repeated shivers that riddled my body, aftershocks of the ordeal.
“Hmm,” he now said, pulling the cloak off again. “I think ‘twold be better, in fact, to remove the breeches altogether, lest you get tangled up in your sleep.”
“No, please. I do not think I’ll be moving—Legolas, no! Owwww!”
I cried out anew as he ignored my protests and shifted me off him onto my belly, then sat up and proceeded to strip off my breeches, yanking them right over my boots and off in one quick move. I cried out at every jarring move, feeling not the least bit apologetic. “No! Stop it! OW! Please! Legolas, do not!”
He tsked and said, “Stop fussing, little one.” At last he laid back down and picked me up, dragging me atop him again and tossing my cloak over my now half-naked body.
I huffed and grimaced and grumbled, “Are you satisfied now? Why did you do that?”
He raised a brow at me and said in a perfect authoritative manner, “Because I wanted to. And someone with such a sore posterior should mind his manners.” I felt another pout crease my face and he watched me with an alarming gleam in his eyes. “Stop that at once. I was not too harsh with you. You know better than to close yourself off like that. And lest you think of making an ill-advised remark about others who do the same, let me remind you that my arm is still not tired.” He grinned at my flinch. “As a means of achieving a goal, Estel, your behavior was most effective, but perhaps next time you shall swallow that excessive pride and come to me as you should have this time.”
I bit back my planned remark about the excessive pride of elves, and instead tactfully muttered, “I shall try.”
“That is all I ask.” He leaned up and kissed me, then said, “We shall certainly need some salve tomorrow morning before the others are fully awake.”
I studied him. “We are staying out here all night?”
“Aye, little Ranger. Gandalf is keeping watch. We shall not be disturbed. I wanted you all to myself this whole night.”
I grinned, a lovely tremor shooting through me. Legolas felt it and returned my lazy smile
“Aye, well then, perhaps by morning I can tolerate some salve.”
“If there is any left,” he said.
“Estel, I think you can allow yourself to dip into the supply of athelas your packed from Rivendell. You brought a great deal.”
“Noooooo,” I moaned. “I cannot. That is for emergencies only.”
“Your pretty bottom is on fire, sweetling. If that is not an emergency--”
“It is not. We have a long road ahead with danger at any turn. I cannot spare one leaf of my supply. What if I were to desperately need it and I had used some for such a purpose?” I groaned again and buried my face against his shoulder. After a moment I said, “I feel you chuckling.”
“Oh, poor, Estel.” He kissed my brow and hugged me closer. “Poor little boy. Having to be so responsible.”
“I fail to see the humor here.”
He laughed. “Well, take heart. Perhaps there is some left. Merry had handed what remained of it to Sam, and Pippin said something about there not being much, but they had left a little for Frodo. So, I do not know--”
“Ohhhh,” I muttered. “Those naughty little--”
My beautiful elf closed his eyes and tipped his head back and laughed louder.
“There are entirely too many spankings going on around here!” I sputtered.
End Ranger-child chapter VI
To be continued - Ranger-child chapter VII